Pitt football's class of 2014 continues to grow


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June is traditionally a popular time of year for college football programs to put together the bulk of their recruiting class for the upcoming seasons. Teams hold prospect camps, and coaches and high school players alike can focus on recruiting rather than their respective upcoming seasons.

What Pitt did this week, though, isn't exactly par for the course. The Panthers have added 10 verbal commitments since June 14, setting the foundation for a 2014 class they will hope to build upon between now and signing day.

"It's that time of year when you get a lot of commitments because you've got guys at camp," said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "But 10 in a week, that's a little abnormal."

The latest batch came Friday, when Cincinnati defensive end Shane Roy gave his verbal pledge to Paul Chryst and the Panthers. Roy joined Fox Chapel linebacker Quintin Wirginis, Staunton (Va.) defensive lineman Mike Herndon and Wallingford (Conn.) defensive lineman Connor Dintino as players who committed since Thursday.

Fox Chapel coach Eric Ravotti said the recent roll Pitt has been on in recruiting definitely played a role in Wirginis' decision.

"Quintin was given as resounding welcoming as far as the importance of what he was to that program and how he fit in," Ravotti said. "They did a great job explaining that to him. Plus they're getting some more top recruits. That excites a kid."

For Pitt, securing commitments now also allows them to wait and allow their top targets to take their time in making a decision. Elite prospects such as Washington (Pa.) running back Shai McKenzie, Aliquippia safety Dravon Henry and Palo Alto (Calif.) quarterback Keller Chryst -- Pitt coach Paul Chryst's nephew -- are some of the Panthers' most-wanted players for the 2014 class.

While it might not be a major factor, Farrell said some of the commitments Pitt secured this week could end up helping the Panthers in their recruiting down the road. In particular, the Panthers locking up four-star Bethel Park offensive lineman Mike Grimm could influence the decisions of Washington or Chryst, who would be playing behind Grimm in the offensive backfield.

"Highly ranked guys tend to gravitate toward highly ranked guys," Farrell said. "I don't think it hurts that their offensive line class is actually very good right now."

One possible criticism of this week's spate of commitments could be a perceived lack of star power. Other than Grimm, all the players who committed this week are listed as two- or three-star prospects by Rivals.

During Chryst's tenure at Wisconsin, the Badgers never ranked higher than 33rd in the Rivals team recruiting rankings, yet won two Big Ten Conference titles and finished with double-digit wins four times.

"A lot of these guys have earned these offers at camps in front of coaches that have a tremendous ability to evaluate talent," Farrell said. "For fans, I'd say kind of wait and see. If it turns out they play like Wisconsin, hey, recruiting like Wisconsin's pretty good."

Wirginis already has his answer to fans who challenge the talent of Pitt's newest crop of players.

"I've heard some people say the coaching staff, they're either geniuses or they're recruiting some busts," Wirginis said. "I think these are all great players. I've looked at all of them, I know a lot of them. They're definitely incredible football players. I think Pitt definitely has something going for it coming up in a few years."

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published June 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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